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Kamehameha III
King of the Hawaiian Islands
Reign June 6, 1824 — December 15, 1854
(&0000000000000029.00000029 years, &0000000000000192.000000192 days)
Predecessor Kamehameha II
Successor Kamehameha IV
Spouse Queen Kalama
Jane Lahilahi Young unmarried
Nāhiʻenaʻena unmarried
Prince Keawe Aweʻula-o-Kalani
Prince Keawe Awe'ula-o-Kalani II
Albert Kuka'ilimoku Kunuiakea
Full name
Keaweawe`ula Kiwala`o Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kiwala`o i ke kapu Kamehameha
House Kamehameha
Father Kamehameha I
Mother Keopuolani
Born August 11, 1813(1813-08-11)
Keauhou at North Kona, Hawaiʻi island
Died December 15, 1854 (aged 41)
Honolulu, Oahu
Burial Mauna ʻAla Royal Mausoleum

Kamehameha III (born Kauikeaouli), (August 11, 1813–December 15, 1854) was the King of Hawaii from 1824 to 1854. He was Hawaii's longest-reigning monarch. His full Hawaiian name was Keaweaweʻula Kiwalaʻo Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa and then lengthened to Keaweaweʻula Kiwalaʻo Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kalani Waiakua Kalanikau Iokikilo Kiwalaʻo i ke kapu Kamehameha when he ascended the throne. He was Hawaii's first Christian king and it was under him that Hawaii transitioned from a secular Hawaiian monarchy to a Christian constitutional monarchy with the signing of not one but two of Hawaii's Constitutions in 1840 and 1852. He was the longest reigning monarch in the 99 years of history of the Kingdom, ruling for 29 years and 192 days, although in the early part of his reign he was under a regency by Queen Kaʻahumanu and later by Kaʻahumanu II.


Early life

Born on August 11, 1813 at Keauhou Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauikeaouli was the second son of Kamehameha the Great and the high Chiefess Keopuolani of Maui. He was of the highest kapu lineage. Kauikeaouli was 11 years younger than his brother Liholiho, who ruled as Kamehameha II in 1819. He was born Kauikeaouli (placed in the dark clouds) Kaleiopapa Kuakamanolani Mahinalani Kalaninuiwaiakua Keaweaweʻulaokalani (the red trail or the roadway by which the god descends from heaven). He was delivered stillborn at birth but Kapihe, the kaula (prophet) of Chief Kaikioʻewa was summoned and revived him declaring the baby "alive". Kauikeaouli was cleansed, laid on a consecrated place, fanned, prayed over and sprinkled with water until he breathed, moved and cried. The prayer of Kapihe was to Kaʻönohiokalä, "Child of God". Kamehameha III chose to celebrate his birthday on March 17 in honor of his admiration for Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Kauikeaouli had a troubled childhood. He was torn between the Christian guidelines imposed on the kingdom by the kuhina nui (prime minister) Kaʻahumanu and the desires to return to the ways of old Hawaii. Under the influence of Oahu governor Boki, who owned a liquor store, Kauikeaouli turned to alcohol in a clear rejection of the Christian standards of morality.


Portrait of the young king, oil on canvas painting by Robert Dampier, 1825, Honolulu Academy of Arts

Kauikeaouli was only 11 when he ascended to the throne in June 6, 1825, 11 months after the death of Liholiho. For the next seven years, from 1824 to 1832, real political power was in the hands of his stern adoptive mother and regent, Queen Kaʻahumanu. When Kaʻahumanu died in 1832, she was replaced as regent by Kauikeaouli’s half-sister, Elizabeth Kinaʻu, who took the title Kaʻahumanu II. Kinaʻu died when Kauikeaouli was only 25, and the young king found himself consumed by the burdens of kingship.

When Kauikeaouli came to the throne, the native population numbered about 150,000, which was already less one third of the Hawaiian population at the time of Captain Cook’s arrival to Hawaii in 1778. During his reign, that number would be halved again, due to a smallpox epidemic.

In 1839, under a French threat of war, Roman Catholicism was legalized in the Edict of Toleration and the first statutory law code was established. He also enacted the Constitution of 1840, Hawaii's first. Two years later, he moved the capital from Lahaina to Honolulu.

In 1843, a British commander named George Paulet pressured Kauikeaouli into surrendering the Hawaiian kingdom to the British crown, but Kamehameha III alerted London of the captain's rogue actions which eventually restored the kingdom's independence. It was during this brief period of uncertainty that the king uttered the phrase that eventually became Hawaii’s motto: "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono"—"The life/sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." Less than five months later, on July 29, British Admiral Thomas rejected the commander’s actions and the kingdom was restored to Kauikeaouli. This date November 28, was celebrated thereafter as Ka La Ho'iho'i Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, an official national holiday of the kingdom.

One of his most important acts was the Great Mahele of 1848 which redistributed land between the government, king, nobles, and commoners. Many commoners were unaware of the program and lost out on the distribution. Foreigners were also allowed to own land in Hawaii for the first time. In 1849, French admiral Louis Tromelin sacked and looted Honolulu after the king refused his demands. Kamehameha III's last major act was the Constitution of 1852 which greatly liberalized politics.

On May 16, 1853 King Kamehameha III proclaimed the Hawaiian Kingdom neutral in the Crimean War in Europe.

Marriage and children

In ancient Hawaii, upper classes considered a marriage with a close family member to be an excellent way to preserve pure royal bloodlines. His brother Liholiho and his half-sister Kamamalu were a half-sister and brother couple. He had loved his sister Nāhiʻenaʻena and planned to marry her since childhood, but the union was opposed by the missionaries as sinful incest.[1]

After his sister's death in 1836, he married Chiefess Kalama Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili, of no relation to him. He and Kalama had two children: Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani I and Prince Keaweaweʻulaokalani II who both died while infants. He and his mistress Jane Lahilahi, a daughter of his father's advisor John Young, had twin illegitimate sons: Keoua, who died young, and Albert, who lived to adulthood.

Later years

As the years passed, Kauikeaouli found himself resigned to the changing landscape of Hawaii. His rebellious nature softened as his authority was compromised by outside influences. In 1854, he had his foreign minister, Robert Wyllie, "ascertain the views of the United States in relation to the annexation thereto of these Islands."

Kamehameha III died on December 17, 1854. He was 41. He was succeeded by his nephew and adopted son Alexander Liholiho, who was styled as King Kamehameha IV. Kamehameha III was buried in the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii known as Mauna ʻAla.[2]


  1. ^ Marjorie Sinclair (1969). "Princess Nahienaena". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. pp. 3–30. Retrieved 2009-12-30.  
  2. ^ King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha at Find a Grave

External links

Hawaiian royalty
Preceded by
Kamehameha II
King of Hawaiʻi
1824 - 1854
Succeeded by
Kamehameha IV

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